LUBA Rules in our Favor on Deetour Hotel

On June 29th, the state’s top planning board soundly rejected Hood River County’s approval of a 50-room hotel at the site of the old Dee Mill – the latest attempt by the developers of DeeTour to install a destination hotel-resort and concert attraction out in the countryside.

Oregon’s Land Use Board of Appeals agreed with the Hood River Valley Residents Committee that the Board of Commissioners’ decision to allow this project was a far stretch from what Hood River County’s land-use plan actually allows for rural acreage on a country road. Here is the LUBA Decision Deetour Hotel 6.29.17

From the beginning, members of the public saw that the regional draw of a concert scene and hotel complex would be overwhelming out in quiet, rural Dee. How could this grand scheme mesh with Oregon’s land-use laws designed to put urban uses in urban areas and to protect working farms and forestlands from conflicts with holidaymakers? Their instincts were spot on.

LUBA agreed with HRVRC’s take that the “exception” taken for the property in 1984 was for a rural, industrial use not an urban, commercial use. The land-use court sent the case back to the county with instructions that the developer would need a new “reasons exception” to Goal 4 (Forestlands) in order to allow commercial uses; a Goal 14 exception (Urbanization) showing why it was necessary to locate an urban use in a rural area and that no suitably zoned land was available to build a hotel; and possibly a Goal 11 exception (Public Services) for their large sewer system on non-urban land.

Their decision also stops the threat of copycats who might try this elsewhere. HRVRC president Mike McCarthy notes “This means the Dee site is saved for what was always intended there: a rural industrial site that fits our community and provides year-round better paying jobs.”

The DeeTour property is zoned industrial under Hood River’s code, which relies on a hazy nesting-doll method where uses allowed in commercial zones were folded into its industrial zones with blanket approval. The County Commission took the position that M-1 zone also allows commercial uses, a hotel is a commercial use, end of story.

But when HRVRC pulled back the curtain, we found that the property’s 1984 industrial designation was based on the then-working Dee mill. The county took an “Exception” to the statewide goal protecting forestlands because clearly the Dee mill site was “irrevocably committed” to an existing rural industry and would stay that way. But exception areas are a way to recognize facts on the ground, they are not “anything goes” zones.

LUBA concluded that the rural, industrial exception taken for the property in 1984 was just that — an exception for the mill or a similar industrial use — not a blanket exception for any and every thing such as the proposed destination hotel/resort.

Our thanks to members of the public who testified against the hotel at the hearings before the Planning Commission and Board of Commissioners and also to those who donated to help fund this appeal. We can’t do it without you.

We are especially grateful to our friends at 1000 Friends of Oregon who have provided stellar legal expertise to local land use groups like us for more than 40 years. 1000 Friends Circuit Rider staff attorney Meriel Darzen skillfully represented us at LUBA and Deputy Director Mary Kyle McCurdy was instrumental in helping us understand the essential legal issues at play. They are friends indeed!


History of the Project: 2016 and 2015

Deetour Hotel Appealed to LUBA

The Residents Committee has appealed the Hood River Board of Commissioners decision to approve Apollo Land Holdings LLC’s application to build a 50-room hotel at the site of the old Dee Mill to Oregon’s Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA). The hotel is an addition to a controversial concert venue complex planned for the same site which was originally denied by the Planning Commission before being overturned by the Board of Commissioners. We are appealing the Board of Commissioners’ decision because of overwhelming public opposition to this resort in a rural area. There are strong legal restrictions to siting this ever-expanding urban-style project in a quiet, rural part of the county. We’ll keep you informed on the schedule for oral argument in Salem for those who would like to attend. If you are interested in supporting our appeal, we have set up a dedicated fund solely for this purpose, just indicate “Deetour appeal” on your donation. 

Deetour Hotel Appeal Hearingparking-2
Monday, Dec. 19, 6 p.m.
County Administration Building, 601 State Street, Hood River

Come on down Monday, Dec. 19 at 6 pm to see the Hood River Board of Commissioners decide whether to support or overturn the Planning Commission’s decision to deny development of a 50-room hotel which was added to the controversial concert venue project at the old Dee mill site, near the intersection of Lost Lake Road and Dee Highway. 

 HRVRC opposed the project. We are troubled by the concept of putting an intense, urban use way out in the country. Many neighbors are concerned about the impacts of this big development in such a remote rural setting and they are worried about traffic congestion, compatibility with the surrounding area and effects on nearby farming and forestry practices.

We highly encourage you to attend the Dec. 19 hearing. As the old expression goes, “90% of success is just showing up.”

If you participated earlier by giving written or oral testimony, you have standing to testify again. Please do it!  The Commission will allow  3 minutes for each speaker. If you would prefer to give written testimony, send it to Senior Planner Eric Walker, 

If you don’t have official standing but still want to lend support, come to the hearing.

Here is the complete record of the project including all the previous testimony.

Denied Hotel Appealed to Board of Commissioners

On July 18, Apollo Land Holdings LLC filed an appeal to the Board of Commissioners o.f the Planning Commission’s rejection of their land use application for a 50-room hotel  (See below). The Board of Commissioner appeal hearing is expected to be scheduled for November 21, 6 pm at the County Administration Building, 601 State Street. 

If you participated earlier by giving written or oral testimony, you have standing to testify again. Please do it!  They will allow around 3 minutes for each speaker. If you would prefer to give written testimony, send it to Senior Planner Eric Walker,

Here is the complete record of the project including all the previous testimony

Planning Commission Denies Dee Tour Hotel

On June 15, the Planning Commission voted 5-2 to support HRVRC’s appeal and deny land-use permission for a proposed 50-room hotel recently added to the controversial concert venue development at the old Dee Mill. Thanks to everyone who attended the hearings, gave testimony or wrote letters.

When the concert venue was first proposed, many people asked how such an intense, urban use could be allowed way out in the country? They were surprised that Oregon’s strict land use laws would allow a big development like this in such a remote rural setting and asked lots of questions about traffic and compatibility with the surrounding area and impacts to nearby farming and forestry practices. They were right to ask those questions.

The Deetour property is zoned industrial, and Hood River’s code allows commercial uses in the industrial zone. But when we peeled another layer back, we found that the property was zoned industrial rather than farm or forest like other land in Dee, because at the time the property was zoned in 1984, it was a working mill. The county took what is called “an exception” to the normal way the state requires rural property to be zoned, because the property was “irrevocably committed” to an industrial use. By taking that exception, rural, industrial uses were allowed at the site, but state law specifically prohibits an expansion to different uses or activities. The Planning Commission found that the rural, industrial exception taken for the property does not authorize an urban scale, commercial use. Our full testimony is available here and the application and staff report is available here.

Planning Commission Hearings on Dee Tour Hotel Appeal

May 31, 2016– Last week, in front of lively local crowd, the Hood River County Planning Commission held its first hearing on our appeal of the Planning Department’s approval of a 50-room hotel at the site of the old Dee Mill. The Planning Commission will take new written testimony until June 1st and rebuttal testimony until June 8th. They will resume the hearing on Wednesday June 15th at 5:30 pm at the County Building, 601 State Street and we expect them to deliver a decision that night.

We appealed the Planning Director’s decision for three reasons:

  • Residents of this rural area should have a chance to comment in a public hearing how the proposal would impact their safety, their quality of life and livelihoods.
  • The County’s limited industrial lands should be reserved for industrial uses and the economic benefits they provide.  Industrial jobs tend to be full year, family wage jobs rather than the seasonal, low wage service jobs the hotel would provide.
  • The applicant is attempting to build a destination resort one piece at a time. The development will get bigger and bigger and more intense. This is a very rural part of the county, with very limited infrastructure. The developer should present their complete plan so that the cumulative impacts of the project can be vetted by the county.

HRVRC Appeals Dee Tour Hotel

March 23, 2016–Last week, we appealed the Hood River County Planning Department’s decision to approve a 50-room hotel at the site of the old Dee Mill. The hotel is a new element added to the controversial concert venue development that Apollo Land Holdings proposed two years ago. Many Dee residents are concerned about the project because of traffic, impacts to the East Fork of the Hood River and residual toxins at the site. The large hotel/concert venue complex is such a departure from previous land-uses in this remote area of the county, HRVRC appealed the decision to the Planning Commission to allow for a public hearing and a more complete vetting of the project by the local community. The Planning Commission hearing will likely be held in May and all community members are invited to attend and submit testimony. To share your concerns about the project or find out more, contact HRVRC board member Mike McCarthy.